- President Obama is in Berlin today where he will give a speech arguing for sharp reductions in nuclear warheads and more cooperation on other important challenges such as climate change and democracy.
- The US will start negotiations with the Taleban in Qatar later this week. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s President Karzai has suspended negotiations with the US on a security pact, accusing the US of sending mixed messages.
- Hungarian prosecutors have charged Laszlo Csatary, named the Wiesenthal’s Center most wanted last year, with war crimes over his involvement in the torture and deportation of Jewish prisoners during WWII.
- A new report by the International Maritime Bureau reveals that the Gulf of Guinea, on Africa’s West Coast, has the dubious honour of being the piracy hot spot of 2012.
- The ICC has declined a request to investigate Vatican officials over their handling of child abuse claims by clergy, on the basis that the matter doesn’t fall within the Court’s jurisdiction.
- At the WTO, Panama has filed a request for consultations with Colombia over the latter’s import restrictions on textiles, apparel and footwear.
- Brazil is experiencing its biggest wave of protests in decades over a wide variety of grievances, ahead of a range of high-profile international events in the next few years.
- Russia and Iran have warned against intervention in Syria and oppose the arming of Syrian rebels.
- Syrian President Assad has warned Europe that it will pay the price for arming the rebels in the form of more terrorism at home.
- More pretrial hearings were held at Guantanamo Bay for the five 9/11 accused. The trial is unlikely to start before the end of 2014.
- The US and the EU have officially announced their intention to negotiate a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. Right on time, because scientists have discovered a new subduction zone that will move Europe closer to the US, in 220 million years from now…
- The Egyptian Foreign Minister is meeting his Ethiopian counterpart over Ethiopia’s decision to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which Egypt fears will divert water it needs.
- Diplomatic efforts are also gearing up between North Korea, South Korea and the US.
- The members of the G8 are meeting in Northern Ireland this week. The meeting takes place amidst revelations that US and UK intelligence agencies spied on their allies during G20 meetings in London in 2009.
- The latest round of climate change talks concluded in Bonn on Friday. Earth Negotiations Bulletin has a detailed summary here.
- The Armed Groups and International Law Blog has published its roundup of recent scholarship on issues relating to armed groups or non-international armed conflict.
- A car bomb detonated in a Damascus suburb, killing at least 20.
- Hassan Rouhani has unexpectedly won the Iranian presidential election in the first round.
- Julian Assange is confident that a deal will be reached between the UK and Ecuador to resolve his current situation.
- Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese activist who made a high-profile escape to the US Embassy in Beijing last year, has accused NYU of bowing to Chinese pressure to end his fellowship. NYU has denied the allegations.
This week on Opinio Juris, there was a lot of news to cover with NSA leak and the US administration’s decision to arm Syrian rebels. On the first, Julian thought Hong Kong was a dumb choice of refuge for the NSA leaker. Chris dug deeper into domestic data-mining with earlier stories about the NSA’s activities. Peter addressed the position of expat Americans in PRISM. Further on cyber-issues, Duncan highlighted Japan’s new Cybersecurity Strategy.
On the second bit of news, Julian argued why the “red line” crossed by Syria is meaningless in terms of the legal framework restricting US intervention in Syria. Neomi Rao contributed a guest post on the implications of the Syria crisis for the R2P doctrine. As announced by Julian here, Neomi will continue to blog on R2P next week, so stay tuned!
Other internationally relevant news can be found in the weekday news wraps.
First in string of guest posts, Michael Lewis argued that Pakistan has withdrawn its consent to US drone strikes in its territory. James Stewart then responded to Kevin’s defence last week of the ICTY’s new “specific direction” standard for aiding and abetting. Finally, Elizabeth Wilson returned to the discussion of Kiobel to refute Samuel Moyn’s argument in his ForeignAffairs post, by delving into the historical background of anti-Shell protests in Ogoniland.
In other posts, Duncan pointed to a recent article by Jean Galbraith on the treaty-implementing power of Congress in historical practice, and Kristen reported back from a conference in Leiden on privileges and immunities of international organizations. If this inspires you to write or to attend a conference, check out this week’s listing of calls for papers and events here.
Have a nice weekend (especially Jessica who has a big day today!)
[Dr. Elizabeth A. Wilson is Assistant Professor at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University.]
In the “Insta-Symposium” conducted here after the Supreme Court’s Kiobel decision, Peter Spiro linked to a piece by Samuel Moyn about Kiobel posted on the Foreign Affairs website and said he was “sympathetic” with Moyn’s conclusion that “human rights advocates would be better served to abandon the ATS, even to the extent that Kiobel leaves the door open.” Not willing to go quite so far as Moyn in celebrating the ATS’s demise, Spiro nonetheless said, “pressing corporate social responsibility norms may not lend itself to the same sort of sexy clinical offerings as the ATS, but it may be better preparation for today’s real world of human rights practice.” These criticisms connect with important debates happening now concerning the “legalization” of human rights and the ability of human rights to offer “a real politics of change,” in Beth Simmons’ words, so it is important to see what lessons the Kiobel case and its underlying facts really teach.
For those not specialized in human rights, Moyn is a professor of history at Columbia who wrote a book called The Last Utopia in which he argued for a revisionist account of human rights history, stressing the discontinuity of human rights– imagined as they are today as a feature in an international legal system — with a host of ideas and events usually taken as antecedents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Declaration of Independence, and the French Declaration on the Rights of Man and the Citizen. In his Foreign Affairs post on Kiobel, Moyn folds the ATS into this iconoclastic revision of human rights history, stating that the “ATS strategy” favored by American human rights lawyers “resulted in a narrow approach [i.e., a legal approach] that marginalized other options,” doing nothing “to address underlying political and economic problems.” “Far better,” he opines,” to move onto other ways of protecting human rights – less centered on courts, less rushed for quick fix, less concerned with spectacular wrongs to individuals and more with structural evils, and less disconnected from social movements abroad.” Moyn asserts that “[t]here is little evidence…that the wave of ATS litigation has put a dent in the world’s suffering,” though he provides no evidence to support this claim.
- In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Edward Snowden has revealed that the US has engaged in hacking activities against Hong Kong and China.
- In a report released yesterday to mark World Day Against Child Labor, the ILO estimated that around 10 million children worldwide are working in domestic labour.
- Turkey’s crackdown in Taksim Square may not be without consequences for its membership negotiations with the EU.
- The NYTimes has an op-ed about the British government’s decision to compensate over 5000 Kenyans for the torture and abuse they suffered during the Mau Mau Rebellion in the 1950s.
- France has expressed its determination to include a cultural exception in the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Meanwhile, cows and dairy products are seen as the biggest obstacle in the trade negotiations between the EU and Canada.
- The Pre-Trial Chamber I has rejected Laurent Gbagbo’s challenge to the admissibility of the case against him, due to insufficient evidence that he is being actively prosecuted in Côte d’Ivoire.
- EU officials have sent a “please explain” to the US over the private information of European citizens collected under the PRISM program.
- Meanwhile, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have asked the US government for permission to release aggregate data on the information requests they receive, to improve transparency.
- Syrian rebels have reportedly killed dozens of Shiite pro-government fighters in retaliation for the killing of four rebels. With tensions increasing in the region, the UN is forced to look for new peacekeepers after Austria decided to pull out its troops over the next four weeks.
- The EU is likely to escalate its trade disputes with China another notch, as it plans to join Japan’s earlier complaint against Chinese anti-dumping duties on steel tubes.
- The Taliban has carried out a second deadly attack in Kabul in as many days, this time targeting the Supreme Court.
- The WTO TRIPS Council has reportedly decided to extend the transition period for least developing countries until 2021.
- The United States may decide early this week to provide armed assistance to Syrian rebels. Israel’s PM Netanyahu has made clear that Israel refuses to get involved in this discussion.
- Turkish riot police have moved into Taksim Square to remove anti-government protesters.
- A Kenyan court has imposed prison sentences of five years on nine Somali nationals accused of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
- EU officials have been critical of Special Rapporteur Falk when he presented his report on Israel at the UNHRC in Geneva.
- As more revelations about the NSA’s surveillance are in the pipeline, Ed Snowden’s current whereabouts are unknown.
- Ethiopia is being advised to take Egypt to the ICJ to secure rights to dam the Nile.
- During their talks over the weekend, President Xi Jinping and President Obama reached agreement on North Korea and on curbing HFC emissions, but didn’t reach agreement on industrial cyber-espionage.
- Israel has accused Iran and its Palestinian and Lebanese allies of wide-scale cyber attacks on vital national infrastructure.
- Ed Snowden, the NSA/PRISM whistleblower has revealed his identity in an interview with The Guardian, which has live updates here. Meanwhile, Forbes and The Atlantic both whether he can be extradited to the US by Hong Kong where he is currently in hiding.
- Afghan security forces have fought off an attack by Taliban militants near Kabul airport.
- For the first time in over two years, North and South Korean diplomats have held marathon talks to prepare for ministerial talks.
- Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority has called off search operations for survivors after a boat carrying around 55 asylum seekers capsized near Christmas Island.
- South Korea has agreed to negotiate with North Korea on the reopening of a joint industrial park that was closed in April after rising tensions.
- The ICC Prosecutor has reported to the UN Security Council on the situation in Darfur.
- The EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator wants member states to do more to restrict their citizens travelling to Syria to fight with extremist groups.
- Syrian rebels have seized the only border crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights.
- The IMF has issued a report admitting that it made mistakes in Greece, but also shifting some of the blame to other eurozone states.
- According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, forensic examination has shown that the Syrian regime used sarin gas against the rebels. He added that all options are now on the table regarding the response to the situation in Syria.
- Syrian troops, assisted by Hezbollah militia, have seized control of the strategic city of Qusair.
- The US International Trade Commission has sided with Samsung in its ongoing patent fight against Apple; this could see certain types of iPads and iPhones banned from import and sale in the US.
- An Egyptian court has handed out prison sentences of up to five years to 43 pro-democracy NGO workers, including 16 Americans.
- Environmental NGOs have released a report accusing Joseph Kony and his militia of poaching elephants for cash and have called upon governments, particularly in Asia, to do more to combat the illegal trade in ivory.
- The EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, has imposed a 12% import duty on Chinese solar panel products that will increase to an average of 47% unless a solution is negotiated within 60 days. China has already responded by announcing an investigation into EU wine trading subsidies.
- Sixty-three states have signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty on the first day that is was open for signature, and at least three more are expected to do so in the next few days. The US will ratify once all official translations have been completed.
- The head of the IAEA has expressed his frustration about the lack of progress in nuclear talks with Iran.
- Ecuador’s Foreign Minister has announced on Twitter that he will meet with his UK counterpart in a fortnight to discuss the situation of Julian Assange.
- The Trial Chamber of the ICC has set September 10 as the new start date for the trial of William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang.
- The European Commission will recommend Latvia for admission to the euro zone from the start of 2014.
- Today marks the 24th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tien An Men square. The NYTimes analyzes the impact it had on the careers of the current group of Chinese leaders.
- IATA, the International Air Transport Association, has passed a resolution calling on governments to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aviation from 2020 onwards, but environmental groups are not convinced.